100 years and counting

Greenville Hospital System celebrates a milestone

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Michael Riordan, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center, welcomes everyone to the kickoff of a year-long celebration of the health system's centennial in the commons area of Greenville Memorial. H

As they started to raise money through teas, doll shows and operas for Greenville’s first hospital more than a century ago, the Rowena Lodge of the Knights of Pythias ladies’ auxiliary could never have imagined their efforts would be the beginning of one of the nation’s largest public hospital systems.

City Hospital opened on Jan. 10, 1912 on Memminger Street. Antibiotics didn’t exist, babies delivered at home often died of complications and patients had a less than 50-50 chance.

Now, surgeons use robotic equipment to perform intricate surgeries, an array of medicines are available to treat all types of diseases and prescriptions are sent to pharmacies with a keyboard stroke on a computer.

“It’s almost like Star Trek,” said Dr. Spence Taylor, GHS chief medical officer and senior associate dean of medical affairs for the medical school that will open on the hospital system’s main campus in the fall.

While technology has marked the past 25 years, the next 25 will be spent figuring out how to deliver medical care efficiently and affordably, Taylor said.

When a new medical gadget was developed in the past, doctors used it. When a new medicine went on the market, doctors prescribed it.

“Now we realize that we need a doctor who thinks differently, a doctor who approaches the world differently,” Taylor said.

The University of South Carolina School of Medicine – Greenville will play a big role, Taylor said.

“When people look back over the last two to three decades, the decision to create a medical school will be viewed as transitional moment for the hospital system and the community,” CEO Mike Riordan said.

The school has received nearly 1,000 applications for 50 slots. About three-quarters of the students will be from South Carolina, Riordan said.

Collaboration and teamwork will be key to the medical center’s approach.

“In the past, we were teaching and preaching the individualism of doctors and they viewed the doctor-patient relationship autonomously,” Taylor said. “Now, we’re taking a team approach where doctors and hospitals work collaboratively together.”

Research will focus on the best care models to serve different populations, Taylor said.

Riordan said all medical students would go to Greenville Tech for EMS training. It will give them clinical experience and allow them to see what the challenges patients have economically, socially and geographically that may affect their health.

Dr. Joanne Skaggs, an internal medicine physician with Cross Creek Internal Medicine, said doctors are concentrating more on what can improve patient outcomes while keeping medical care affordable.

“A doctor could order a million tests, but they have to look at whether those tests are going to change the outcome,” she said.

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